Walter E. Dandy Letters

We are proud to host the transcripts of Walter E. Dandy’s correspondence with his family. These letters illustrate the personal side of this neurosurgical genius, spanning his early college education through senior tenure at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

February 28, 1910

1214 S. Mass Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

February 28, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Well Papa went this evening at 3. He did not get time to write to you as he was very busy fixing up a lot of correspondence to send to General Chairman Stone, and he did not get through when he went away so you will have to excuse him this time. He is going the limit with it. He is not so particular about the runs as he is to beat these fellows.

He has had fine runs lately. Trip before last he said the block signal was against him coming into Sedalia. Lost about 10 min. on that account. Then he said they were giving him signals here to come in. Further back they were giving him signals to stop. He said it was in an awful muddle. He didn't know when he came home what was the matter, so I told him there was a freight came in about 3 or 4 minutes ahead of him. He said I'll bet that was what was the matter, that the signal was against him. They hadn't cleared it. He said he would look to see who had done it when he went out. It was Weir. They were trying to fix up with the dispatcher to not tell on them. Weir was talking to Pa about it after. He said it was his old engine that wouldn't work. He felt rather blue over it. He asked Papa what he sent in was the cause of the delay. Papa said he didn't put in any cause for it.… Miss Minnier came the other day. She said her Mama sent her to see if I was dead. She is very particular about me, of course.… I told her you had a fine position offered you in the university. She thought that so nice.

I haven't seen any of B.'s for a long time. She has not seen your picture yet. She is probably waiting for me to go there.

Papa did laugh about you finding him out about reading prize fights. He said he did, but didn't want to get you interested in them. I got your papers and enjoyed the contents very much. I gave it to my neighbours and they enjoyed it too. She showed me how to make coffee cake. It is certainly fine. I said I knew you would enjoy it. I saw Opal Rose the other day. She wished to be remembered to you. She is as silly as ever. Her mother is getting better.

I hope Dr. Cushing will soon give you the satisfaction of knowing the place is really yours. I guess we are more anxious than you are, and you are more anxious about 9 and 10 than Pa is.…

Is Mr. Orr in this class picture? Did he get an internship? There will be great anxiety among the poor students to get positions.…

Well, I have not much news. I will have to go out and gather some. I like home too well to run around much. We were very glad to hear of your receiving another offer for a position. Hopkins would be better than that.

Your loving Mother


March 1, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

c. Spring 1910

My Dear Son,

…Time seems to go very fast, not long till the Doctor arrives. We want you home as soon as you can, but if you find something that will benefit you in your work for a couple of weeks we will be quite satisfied for you to go to New York or elsewhere. Still waiting to hear the good news from Cushing and to hear you say, Mama I got it.

It is now nearly 7 years since I heard you say it when you were valedictorian. What a thrill of joy to my heart I shall never forget. I often think how well it is that you are so smart, for nothing short of that I think would satisfy, but you must not forget to take pleasure out of this life as well as work. You must not work altogether for the good of others and forget yourself. I think you have the grandest work on earth (with the exception of preaching the Gospel) where you can help the poor and sick and unfortunate but you need time for other things of importance to yourself.

Pa has been wondering what he could get you when you graduate. He said one day he would get you an automobile, but I feel like you do, it is unwise to get something you don't need. When you need anything it is better to get it.

I think you bragged on Pa too soon about a long letter. I believe censure works better with him. See what a short letter he sent this time. I said to him when he started now keep up our reputation for long letter. He hasn't taken any notice, you'll see. I think it is better to talk hard to him.

Well Harry Lewis came down the other day.… I showed him your picture in the class. He thought it fine. He said you were as fat and round as a ball.…

We went to Annie Cravens the other day. She is very anxious to sell her property and go to England to live. She has offered it at $1600. Daisy is in Dr. Broadus office. Annie said she heard Mr. Miller settled with the company for $1700. As soon as they got the money they sent off for a couple of full blooded chickens, $30. She says the money is nearly all gone. Then we came to Gornals. Gornal is still on the Warsaw run.…

Mrs. B.…came down on Sunday. I asked her how Stanley was getting along and she said middling, so I expect that means not doing much. She said it was difficult at Cole Camp. People owned their own houses and they dressed better than in Sedalia. She is thinking of going to England in June.

I asked her when Polly and Foraker were going on their trip. He has holiday every year. She says Polly says she is not going this year. She doesn't want to go. I really believe they can't afford it. He sends $25 per month to his sick brother and then they have only $75 left and I expect it takes all of it. Polly has got a couple more new skirts.

Polly and Foraker came for the Mother. We were sat at the table. Just got through eating and the mother hollers, Polly come and have some of this cake. It is fine. Polly came and eat some and gave Foraker a piece and he said that is fine, have you any more. Polly, I said go and help yourself. She went and cut each of them another piece and they thought it fine. Then she wanted to know what I put in, how much flour and baking powder, etc.

The Mother said Foraker had been having the blues last week. Bad weather and poor trade. He has some responsibility now. I believe he had on his old last summer suit. Polly will get to the bottom of his pocket book alright.…

Gardens are looking pretty nice, lots of radish and onions and lettuce. Do you get good meals. I hope you are looking well when you come home. I want to put on about 15 more lbs. Then I think you will look fine and a good build.

Harry Phelan started in the cinder pit last night. He wants to go firing. I am glad my boy can make a living easier than that.…

Your loving Mother


April 23, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

April 24, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Well it was awful cold yesterday and today. Pretty near as cold as it has been this winter. I expect the fruit is all killed. They say there won't be any strawberries and I guess the peaches are gone. Pa kept saying eat your peaches. There are going to be plenty. But I expect last night has got them. My neighbor got ¼ ton of coal about 2 weeks ago and she got another ¼ ton couple of days ago. I believe she will need another. She did not want to get much as she uses gasoline in the summer. We have only about enough wood to last another day. We are having March weather now. Last month was hot like May. I hope it will be warmer tomorrow. The gardens are not growing much.

We got the paper you sent about the Socialist mayor. Pa was helping to clean house, but he couldn't do much after that paper came till he read it. That is a great mayor sure enough. I am rather inclined to be Socialist. We could not have anything much worse than the present state of affairs, but politics is out of my line. Gossip is my line of work and I am sorry I have not a great deal of that this time.

Mrs. Campbell came down the other day. She has quit keeping boarders and rents half of her house. She says everything is dull at the shops. Rumors of the machinists going on strike. She said Ervie Meyers had been away trying to get a place as machinist as he could not make ends meet here. Married life won't be as happy as he anticipated under those circumstances.

I hope Cushing will soon make you happy by giving you that place.

Your loving Mother



It would be nice for you to be in Baltimore when you graduate if you possibly could. Couldn't you be examined any time in Missouri say after you come home. Did you write to my sister? Time will soon be here when we can have a good talk and see that sweet face. Goodbye.


April 24, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

April 24, 1910

My Dear Son,

…Well it was awful cold yesterday and today. Pretty near as cold as it has been this winter. I expect the fruit is all killed. They say there won't be any strawberries and I guess the peaches are gone. Pa kept saying eat your peaches. There are going to be plenty. But I expect last night has got them. My neighbor got ¼ ton of coal about 2 weeks ago and she got another ¼ ton couple of days ago. I believe she will need another. She did not want to get much as she uses gasoline in the summer. We have only about enough wood to last another day. We are having March weather now. Last month was hot like May. I hope it will be warmer tomorrow. The gardens are not growing much.

We got the paper you sent about the Socialist mayor. Pa was helping to clean house, but he couldn't do much after that paper came till he read it. That is a great mayor sure enough. I am rather inclined to be Socialist. We could not have anything much worse than the present state of affairs, but politics is out of my line. Gossip is my line of work and I am sorry I have not a great deal of that this time.

Mrs. Campbell came down the other day. She has quit keeping boarders and rents half of her house. She says everything is dull at the shops. Rumors of the machinists going on strike. She said Ervie Meyers had been away trying to get a place as machinist as he could not make ends meet here. Married life won't be as happy as he anticipated under those circumstances.

I hope Cushing will soon make you happy by giving you that place.

Your loving Mother



It would be nice for you to be in Baltimore when you graduate if you possibly could. Couldn't you be examined any time in Missouri say after you come home. Did you write to my sister? Time will soon be here when we can have a good talk and see that sweet face. Goodbye.


May 1, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May, 1910

Walter,

What do you think. It is awer Silver Weding on the 25th of this month. Don't you think it would be nice to surprise Mama with a set of silver knives and forks and spoons. (Her spoons are getting rather worse for wear, that is the ones she uses.) If you think it would suite her just notify Bard what you want sent. I will try and slip this piece in letter so she won't see it.

Your affectionate Father


May 2, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 2, 1910

Well My Dear Boy,

…Was pleased to learn that you was well and still confident of getting the position you so much desire. I think it would be cruel to deprive anyone of work that he loves so much to do. I further think that anyone following an occupation that he likes is the happiest man on earth and for this reason I desire you to get what you want.

Did you see in papers wheir A. Bush, St. Louis Brewer, and several others had given millions of dollars to Washington University. Isn't that the place Dr. Cushing thought of going to. I feel that I would like him to go their and take you with him. Let us know how you come out on that operation on the dog. I was telling Mama I felt sorry for the dog but she seemed to think you could do the work all right.

I think you suggested 3 good mottoes in your last letter about your future work. Don't get married early, don't locate in small place, but try and get connected with some good university. I have always thought it fine to get connected with some good university and I hope you can get this privalage.

Well your school days will soon be things of the past. And the real issues will be before you and perhaps many Rubicons be presented before you but they will vanish before a strong mind and resolute will that I believe you possess. There is one thing certain. You have had a good liberal education to help you to decide your future course. I sometimes wonder what you will do if you don't get with Dr. Cushing and then console myself by thinking you will have it all figured out.

Well I think it an honor to write to my boy but feel that I want to quit writing and begin talking to him instead. And as I think about sending for passes very soon I think it won't be long till I can have a good talk with you. I shall not need to tell you anything about R.R. when you come home as I have kept you well posted in my letters. So we will be able to talk about Dr. Cushing, Johns Hopkins, etc.

Well you ought to have seen me out with my new suite the other day. Mama says it is fine as good as yours that you had last year. But I am not the only one with new clothes for I got Mama a fine hat and she looks good in it. I wanted to take her visiting yesterday but it was rather chilly. Been raining hard so could not take her on exibition but some of these fine days we are going to display our new cloths by incedently visiting them.

You ask if passes are good on 9 and 10. So far their as been no restrictions on 9 and 10 for passes and don't think their will be.… When you select your choice of routes to come home on, providing you have not much difference in choise, select the one that has direct connections with our Katy so it don't cost you anything for travel on another connecting line. You remember they only give free pass on one road that makes connections with ours and half rates over the others.

Say I don't think you need be so economical as not to furnish your friends with graduating cards if this is the custom. You had better do as Rome does while you are in Rome. When you need money Mama just prompts me to tell you it is in the bank at your disposal.…

Well I think I have given you a long letter and trust you will reciprocate if you have the time which I think is doubtful amidst your preparations for exams, etc.

Your affectionate Father


May 10, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 10, 1910

Well My Dear Boy,

Got your letter yesterday on my arrival home. Had been all night coming from Parsons to Sedalia detouring over MoPac via Pleasent Hill account of high water at Grand River just south of Clinton. I think I told you in my last letter that the Lamire River was slow ride over it account of putting in new iron bridge. When doing this they have to put in piles, etc., which restricts the river. Then the heavy rains of late has brought driftwood, etc., with them and can't get by their piles etc. causing the bridges to give away. The Lamire has been out 3 or 4 days and we detoured our trains over the east end of the Pacific to St. Louis. Things are now about normal again and are using our own roads but the track is very soft.…

Your ideas of fraternities are well taken in my estimation but at the same time I don't know how you are able to withstand them in your calling. But feel satisfied that they are only bubbles that you don't need to help you or be amused by them.

Well the pass time is at hand. You had better determine in your next letter what you want to do. Do you desire me to get you pass to New York or how. Does the B&O go to New York or had you better pay your fair to New York from Baltimore or how. The Appeal to Reason says their is going to be another money panic so if you need any out of this bank, get it at your leisure.

I am about out of news but I think Mama will be loaded as I took her arround the other day and she gathers lots in little time so we'll give her space.…

Kisses will come when I meet the best boy on earth.

Your affectionate Father


May 10, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 10, 1910

My Dear Son,

…You still have plenty of work, not much time for exercise, hardly time to write. Looking forward to the summer vacation when you can rest awhile. I hope you can make yourself satisfied to rest.

Well Papa has just gone. He has to go on passenger now since that fireman got hurt jumping on a caboose, fell, and cut his arms off. So Finney had put a stop to them going on freight.…

We went up town last week. I managed to get a hat I liked very well. Pa had his new suit on. It looks swell. Yours will have to look pretty nice to beat it. Pa is begining to feel he wants to see you. He said yesterday I want to see my boy now. He is feeling fine, has a good appetite, had radishes, lettuce and onions for supper out of our garden.

He said Engineer Wilson came to him the other day (Wilson that used to fire for him) and said the officials were getting after the Flyer engineers wanting to know how it was that Engineer Dandy burned couple of ton of coal less than they did and made better times also. Pa said he didn't know they would be getting after him next. Dillon and Lydie is on 5 and 6. The firemen doesn't like to fire for them, they want to get to fire for Pa. Pa likes the one he has.

I saw in tonights paper where the machinists has come out on strike today. It will be hard on Ervie Meyers. He couldn't make ends meet before. Another case of foolish marriage. Might have been young and happy and free. I expect he will be a miserable man and she a miserable woman. He is not out of his apprenticeship yet.…

I hope to soon hear the good news that Cushing's place is yours.…

Your loving Mother



Did you get your cards. Goodbye and God bless you.


May 16, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 16, 1910

My Dear Boy,

…Trains are about on time. Track is still rather soft with instructions not to make up time.…

I do not hear much about the machinists trouble. Some places got considerable scabs working. I think the miners will win out before long as the coal saddly is getting short arround here. It is all gone at Parsons. And they are hawling it from Frank Jnct South about as fast as steam shovel can load it up wheir it has been stored on the ground. They will be through there also in about a week. Good mineral coal will look good to us as this stuff we are now getting is miserable old dirt. It seems strange they can't find a better way of dealing with there men than strewing on the ground good coal, letting it lay there untill about useless in order to bluff the men.…

I was trying to perswade Mama yesterday to come and see you graduate and incedentaly get examined, but I can't get her consent as yet. But if you think it nessary as far as the examination is concerned you insist on her coming and I will try and perswade or carry her. I want her to tell you exactly how she is so you can form an idea. As far as I am judge I think she is doing well. But I am not the Dr. any more. So I am going to leave it with you.

You ought to have been home to have dinner and supper yesterday. Mama sure had a banquet.

Your affectionate Father


May 22, 1910

1214 S. Mass. Ave.

Sedalia, Mo.

May 22, 1910

My Dear Son,

I must congratulate you on your success in attaining that place so much desired by you, and wish you the success that will surely be yours. I know you are very happy now, and so are we. May we not forget to thank God for his love and guidance and care over you. We have talked a good deal this last week about your success and honors all through your school life. It is a record to be proud of. Those days are nearly over and the real practical time is at hand.

Well Papa has just gone on No. 4. He said today he felt about quiting work like he did before he was married, a big responsibility. I said I thought he felt something like he did that day when you took him downtown to buy him a taylor made suit.

Well I really think he has worked long enough as you will make plenty and we have plenty and he might as well have some rest and enjoyment. We had better talk about going to Baltimore when you come home. In the meantime you could look around and see what houses rent for. We could not get along with less than 5 rooms, that is to keep house. If we boarded two would be sufficient. We have four here and that is not enough when you are home. I would not want to come to Baltimore to keep you from getting married. I would want to see you get married when you desire to, and can keep one.

I must tell you about this young married woman. She is 21 years old and has a sweet baby. She is visiting my neighbour in this house. She is from Independance. What I wanted to tell you was, she was washing babies didies with a gold bracelet on her arm. I was amused. I had never seen anything like it before. Mrs. Dusenberry told me how she got the bracelet, was engaged to a young man. He bought it for her, had her name on it, then after she ran off with another fellow and got married and never told him anything about it. I think he did not miss much. Mrs. D. says when at home she goes out to neighbours gossiping and leaves the baby on the floor at home. Her husband drives an ice wagon. When he comes home very often no supper for him. It behoves a man to look out and get a good wife or there is not much happiness. I often wonder how Ervie and wife is getting along now, him out of work. I am afraid the love will be getting out of the window, the old saying.

We saw Johnnie Dow and his mother downtown. Johnnie is looking a great deal better and is gaining in weight. He is drinking milk warm from the cow and Mrs. Dow is improving also. She said the doctors said she could not live over a year if she did not have an operation performed. She said there had grown a piece of hard grizzle on the womb and a cancerous growth underneath it. They cut half of the womb away.…

I have not been unwell since I wrote to you last. I am feeling well. Pa says I have got fatter in the last few days. Maybe it has gone for good. I went over to Mrs. Bestgen the other evening. She is a rough kind of woman. She has not been feeling very well. Change of life. She is 47 years old. She said she was unwell sometimes 2 or 3 weeks, sometimes 3 months and had a pain in her side. I said what is the matter with your side, she said Oh, a burst ovary I guess. I could not help laughing. She wasn't worried at all, worrying more about the children. Well nobody hears anything about me either when I am sick or well. Mrs. B. doesn't even know whether I have the change or not. I think I will feel fine now and if I don't I will let you know.

Well we will soon see our dear boy. Then we can tell him how pleased we are over his success. Pa would rather hear it definitely from Cushing's self.

I guess he has lost faith in mankind after his experience with this lodge business. I told him I would not bother any more about it (the lodge business). Let the others that would be more interested than him. He is going to quit anyway, isn't he?.…

Your loving Mother



P.S. I believe you ought to see Cushing's self about the matter. He goes away so often and when school is over he might get away, and you not see him. I would try to see him as soon as you could. Goodbye my dear boy. Not long till the doctor arrives. Won't we be proud.


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